Author Archives: being feminist

About being feminist

fighting against patriarchy, oppression and privilege.

Motherhood Short Story Competition 2014 [Follow Up]

 

The Forgotten Writers Foundation & Being Feminist Blog, are honored to announce the “Shortlisted Award Winners” of The Motherhood Short Story Competition.

The details will be send to all the participants shortly with a detailed feedback on each story (shortlisted or not).

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An open letter to the men who feel ‘under siege’ – (Re) defining ‘Consent’

This is a guest post by Saurabh Sinha. This piece addresses the ongoing debate on men facing undue harassment owing to the new rape laws. It is argued that such an approach is not only flawed but is also the way in which male allies are unable to grasp the complications on the issue.

What has been repeatedly doing the rounds in the national print, television and online media is the reaction in society following what happened with Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal in the case of sexual assault with a young colleague in Goa. While the ‘progressive sections’ were skeptical of where to place this entire issue, some truly believe that it was blown out of proportions – that it was not really a big deal after all. Everyone came to the ‘rescue of women in society’, including miscreants like BJP Delhi chief, Vijay Jolly who harassed another woman for no particular reason but to express his outrage at the incident. Everyone, including the BJP leadership dismissed his act as unacceptable and he had to extend an apology. (Read here)

Another debate, meanwhile, was struck up by writer and journalist Palash Mehrotra in his article on the new rape laws, linking to how the male population, even those sympathetic to the cause of women and rape, are now feeling ‘under siege’. He went to debate the issue on national television, although unconvincingly. The one important point he raised was the increasing discomfort several men are having with the definition of ‘consent’ and where to draw the line between actual consent and the misuse of the ‘draconian law’.

Feminist groups have dismissed or engaged with this as a patriarchal reaction to the legal recognition of rape and the extension of the definition of rape, the need for which has been highlighted for several years, and which was put in place after the December 16 incident of gang-rape in Delhi, now popularly and loosely called the ‘Nirbhaya’ or the ‘Damini’ case. As long as there has been engagement, it has also largely remained superficial and somewhere the concerns raised to not address these are also correct. But again, does the prerogative to start a dialogue to address this discomfort, or organize meetings amongst such groups, discussing the law and the society – and the larger question of equal rights and equality lie only with the feminist groups? I think not.

For decades at end, several groups of feminists and women rights groups have advocated the need to have a stringent law in place which addresses the issue of sexual violence and rape. If at the end of a bright day, some men ‘feel’ that it is maybe too much – that it is a tool for torture of poor innocent husbands and boyfriends, and employers and bosses, it is the responsibility of these men to figure what is to be done; and not sit and criticize the woman.

Consent has always been debated as a thin line – to be considered with the absolute choice of freedom. But while individual freedom is restricted to the environment one lives and works, there probably is a limit to what is consent and what not, and that needs to come from the woman. Is ‘consensual’ sexual activity between a boss and an employee much lower in the social-economic ladder truly consensual then? Is sleeping with your domestic help, even if she ‘agrees’ to it truly a free choice for her? But hey! Of course you are not at fault; because you asked and she agreed. How can that be used against you when you did not ‘abuse her’?

It must be realized that it is not about criminalizing the bedroom, contrary to what it has been claimed. In a reply to this ongoing debate, it has been pointed out well enough –

“..If the bedroom is an area of drunk and possibly unwilling sexual partners or one in which women are forcibly disrobed, then it was arguably a place bordering on the criminal even without the updated legal definition of rape”

Consent has for long been understood as without context. While critics working with this idea of discrimination by women largely ignore that the new law includes acid attacks, sexual harassment, attempts to disrobe a woman, voyeurism and stalking as crimes recorded under the Indian Penal Code inviting stricter punishments, it has largely revolved on how the law is now going out of the way to penalize men who are innocent.

For decades the groups in power have hid under the canopy self-victimization whenever progressive and radical process has sought equality and voice. It happened in the past with the Mandal Commission, which was aggressively fuelled by political parties playing on the hapless victim card to garner support of the upper caste groups to no end. The better and the sad part for the women’s movement in India is that while all political parties claim to work towards the cause of women, issues of safety and security of women has largely remained as pep-talk in the electoral agendas in the absence of identification of women as a strong vote-bank. The better part is that apart from parochial attitudes like ‘saving the woman’ and ‘protecting the culture through the woman’, the Indian political class has largely left the women’s movement to fend for itself.

But with a large association of men as allies in the movement, it is also time now for these men, and others to take cognizance of what is transpiring as recognition of crimes against millions of women in the past which were never addressed. It is now for us to sit up and also demand for the inclusion of marital rape, amending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) to remove the statutory sanction to prosecute the rape accused and all other efforts in the country and worldwide which addresses the issues of violence against women.

Violence in any form and against anyone is a crime against humanity at large – and the question which should be asked repeatedly should rather shake such foundational beliefs, and not reinforce them.

About the author – The author works at Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiative (SRUTI) and is based in New Delhi.

 

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The Motherhood Short Story Competition 2014

Motherhood Story Competition
About the Competition

The Motherhood Short Story Competition has been founded by Egyptian writer Mahmoud Mansi, the founder of The Forgotten Writers Project, and in cooperation with the Being Feminist. Therefore, we – (Being Feminist & The Forgotten Writers Foundation) are honored to launch this global project together. The chief purpose behind this competition is to bring feminism and humanism as lively movements to be part of the social everyday life in a form of art.
We want the “audience” to start interfering along with the “activists” in a “common project” that would reach a wider range of people or reach new categories that are indifferent towards demonstrations.
It is very important to start approaching the world through different methods, especially through art, as art is a source of affection, inspiration, creation, and documentation.

Introduction to Motherhood

Motherhood is a very enigmatic and cavernous notion that has been overlooked by different races. It has become part of a routine, just one of those universal life-cycles that we learnt to live with, without questioning. In this short story competition, we long to explore this inscrutable “Motherhood” and the connection we may feel with it. We want to tackle the mystery that exists in our everyday life and have a closer look at it through literature.

Guidelines

Write a story ranging from 1000 to 3000 words, first narrative, about your relationship with “Motherhood”. You are the protagonist of your story! We want to know what you associate with the concept – your thoughts, your philosophies, your conflicts, your experiences, your trauma, your liberation. We want to know about the relationships and moments that have defined your ideas of “Motherhood”. This can be your relationship with your “mother”, a parent of any gender, a manager, an elder sister, a friend, Mother Nature, with the universe, with God… etc. You could talk about the joys you draw from “motherhood”, the struggles for coping with the pressures associated with “motherhood”, about being denied “motherhood” because of your gender identity or your sexual orientation, about choosing to never experience “motherhood” or about fighting all odds to be a “mother”. The stories can be fiction or non-fiction, and with any number of characters, however the story should mainly revolve around the protagonist and her/his/hir perception and relationship with Motherhood as a person or entity and as a totem.
Story submissions must be in English and we – not only accept – but strongly encourage translated original stories as well. This is a global issue and a global event, and we do urge writers from every part of the world to be part of this, so even if you do not write in English, feel free to write with your original language and find a translator who believes in the message of the completion, then kindly submit to us the story with your name and the name of the translator.
Stories must be original and especially written for this event, as the timing is very important to have a detailed overview on the current Motherhood concept, and then share it with you in one book when published.
There is no age limitation for writers, it is simply open for anyone and everyone, and the writer is free to express through any genre and style of writing, nevertheless we do aspire for creative, new, pure and deep ideas.

Other Guidelines
• It is possible to use illustrations as figures, pictures and drawings if you are a painter.
• It is possible to include your own poetry within your story.
• It is NOT possible to use quotes from other writers.
• You are free to choose any genre of horror, fantasy, politics, romance, or any other one.
• Numbers must be written in (words) except if it was a date-year / ex: 1996 – Seven years old.
• Please do not use (&) instead of (And).
• You may submit up to 3 stories.

Judging
• The winning stories will be chosen on the degree of creativity and the novelty of the idea. Strange and unusual ideas are strongly recommended.
• The depth of the text, characters, places, scene etc.
• The metaphors and similes used.
• The beauty of the writing style and dialogues if there are any.
• The ending of the story and how powerful it is.

Awards
The winners will receive their Award Certificates along with the Publication of their work in one Book.
In the near future we will be working on translating the book into many languages including the home countries of our winners of course.
We do not offer monetary prizes because in a monetary world we seek those who still have a noble cause to struggle for with the intention of making the chance and feeling the honor. That’s why we do not want the mercenary side of our writers. Although money is essential to all of us for survival, but what we as human beings need now and in this era is far more cavernous.
After the deadline is over and we start working on the judging process, we will have more details about the date and exact whereabouts of the Award Ceremony which is going to be held in India.

Submission Guidelines
• All stories are sent via email.
• Word Document: Font must be Times New Roman, 12, Margins Justified and Pages Numbered.
• The Title of the story must be centered in the middle of the page, bold, and size 12.
• Do not mention your name inside the word document due to judging purposes.
• Save the word file with your: Name, Title and Country.
• Please include in the email message these details; Your (Home Country, Resident Country, Address, Mobile Number, Profession).
• Kindly email your stories to: Motherhood_story_competition@hotmail.com , write in the title: Submission – Your Name – Your Country – Your Story Title.
• For questions email: Motherhood_story_competition@hotmail.com , write in the title: Questions – Your Name – Your Country.
• For journalism & media collaboration please use the same email and write in the title: Media – Name of your Newspaper/Organization – Your Country.

Submission Period
We honorably accept submissions starting from The New Year, 1st of January 2014, until 1st of September 2014.

Conclusion
This is not only a literary competition, or a workshop to challenge yourself and others, but it is more like a spiritual connection between individuals from different parts of the world. This is a beginning for long term relationship to serve the Nature we live within, and try inspiring others to fathom the universe around and within us.

For results of the 2012-2013 Feminist Competition: Women’s Domination, click here.
The Book of the Winning Stories of our First Competition: Resurrection of Ancient Egypt

About the Organizers:
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Being Feminist:

Being Feminist was started as a page on Facebook in April, 2012. Within just a year the page has managed to garner the support of more than 36,000 members. Currently, Being Feminist also has a blog on WordPress which gives an opportunity to various writers to engage with their feminism(s) in a more sustained manner. Being Feminist believes in acknowledging and validating subjective opinions and multiple identities and works with an intersectional approach.
Links:
Facebook
Feminist India: A page focusing on India under Being Feminist
Twitter

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The Forgotten Writers Foundation:

Founded after the Egyptian revolution by Mahmoud Mansi to blend international social causes with art. It does so by releasing international story competitions on topics that were not discussed before by literature, especially the contemporary one. The work is published along with an analysis that is made on the stories submitted from each country.
Click here to connect on Facebook.

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